Thursday, 30 July 2009 - 7:14 pm


Last night’s talk didn’t achieve much. Some minds are taking a while to make up. I guess we won’t know who’s coming or going until we actually leave and check who’s in the vehicles.

The only person missing from the discussion was Ben. He didn’t turn up at all last night, so this morning I went to find him. I wound up in a room a couple of floors up, where he was staring out of the window at the forbidden daylight. He didn’t look good, paled into sickliness and gaunt, as if he was wasting away.

He asked me what I wanted and I said I came to find out what was going on with him. He shrugged and gave me a single word: “Hungry.”

I looked at him standing there with his arms wrapped around himself, as if he was afraid of what his hands might do if he didn’t clamp them down. My brain ran through the options with stumbling feet. We didn’t have any fresh meat and canned stuff wouldn’t do. He said he’d exhausted the animal population around here already. The only other option was blood, and I couldn’t bear the thought of him going to Bree again. Her words still rattle around in my head.

It was my blood or hers. My heart made the decision and handed him the knife I still have sheathed at the small of my back. Then it tried to flutter its way out of my chest in denial when he asked if I was sure and I said yes, yes I’m sure. I bared the soft skin of my inner forearm. He didn’t hesitate much.


It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. I watched him with his mouth on my arm and thought about Bree and her bitterness.

She has hated me a lot longer than I realised. The things she threw at me mean little to me, but they’re so much to her. Like dating Cody, the lawyer with the prospects she used to go on about. And the job my dad gave me at the car yard that I left because I wanted to find my own way, rather than following in his footsteps. She despised the car yard, but she used to tell me about how her father left her to her own devices; ‘free’, she called it.

It never occurred to me that I might have things she wanted, not until she took Cody away. She was the prettiest of our little circle, the confident one, the one with the best job and the most money. I was the plainest, the lowliest, the one hoping someone else would be able to buy the drinks at the high-end clubs she liked. And she had never let me forget it, though it didn’t turn nasty until after I found out about her and Cody.

Bree put herself on her pedastal and made everyone recognise her up there. The rest of us were in our place without any doubts. I know now that there was doubt; it’s just that she was very good at hiding it. Them the bomb kicked her pedastal out from under her and she’s still trying to work out how to stand up on our level. My memory’s Bree has gold plating, and it’s flaking off. Underneath, she’s just as grubby as the rest of us.

It doesn’t make me like her any more than I did before. She’s still the snake at my back, all cold-blooded eyes and tongue grabbing at my air.


I was lightheaded by the time Ben was finished and there was a dull ache all the way up my arm. It’s possible I shouldn’t have used the one that was still healing. He put an arm around my waist when I wobbled and kissed me. I tasted copper but wasn’t quick enough to recoil before it was over.

He fetched me something to eat, attentive once his needs were met. I let him. It feels fair to have this exchange between us, even though it doesn’t quite feel right. Or safe. But even with all that, I couldn’t find it in me to be scared of him.

While he was gone, I wondered why he didn’t go find some shamblers to eat; that would solve so many problems at once. Then I remembered what Dr Kostoya said about the chemical deficiency and how the shamblers can’t get nourishment from each other. Presumably, the same applies to Ben.

Abruptly, my stomach went cold and edged into every crevice of my body. Bree said that Steve had died of the Sickness before Ben fed on him, but that can’t be true. It wouldn’t have worked. Steve can’t have died of the Sickness.

Something else killed him. Or someone.

Finally, I am starting to be afraid of Ben and what he’s capable of.

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